Tuesday, December 7, 2010

River walk in northern Germany: Bremen's Schlachte

The city of Bremen in northern Germany features river walks—promenades as well as bike trails—along the Weser river. The paths and trails pass the downtown area and go beyond the city limits into the state of Lower Saxony. They are typically well-marked with signposts giving directions, location names and distances in kilometers (km).

Allthough Bremen is located about 50 km south from where the Weser meets the North Sea, the river through the city still experiences tides. Until the construction of the new port (the Freihafen) between 1884 and 1888, goods from overseas were shipped to the Schlachte, which is seen in the picture and now is a historical harbour destrict with pubs (Biergärten in summer), businesses and landing sites for theater, restaurant and tourist boats.

Two information boards, one in English and one in German, explain that the original structure of die Schlachte did not survive World War II. Major renewal work has been done at the end of the last century and the Schlachte was reopened in 2000. For over six hundred years this was the harbour of the Hanseatic League port Bremen. Beginning in the eighteenth century, however, sea-going ships couldn't access the Schlachte due to natural silting processes in the Weser. This didn't stop commercial activity and trading. Barges were carrying goods along the final river stretch to town.

Getting there
The Schlachte is located between the Wilhelm-Kaisen-Brücke and the Bürgermeister-Smidt Brücke (two bridges). From the city hall (Rathaus), stroll across the market place and through the narrow Böttcherstraße. At the end of this lovely alley you'll find an underground passage leading to the boat tour terminal (Martini Anleger, next to the church, Martinikirche, in the picture). The Schlachte is to the north. You can walk on different levels. The lower level is occasionally flooded when high tides and winter storms converge.

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